Friday, June 08, 2007

Gauthier's Happy Kid

Okay-- too proud of myself that I got the picture up. Since smiley faces are the theme of my library, I had to read this book! It will be prominently displayed!

The minute I go listing what I hate, I find exceptions. Basically, Happy Kid is introspective navel-gazing. The whole thing. And hysterically funny. In fact, I don't have it here to quote from because I left it on the kitchen counter to pack up and my son ran off with it. (This is an ongoing problem in my house.)

What middle school student doesn't believe that their school is "the gateway to hell"? What mother isn't always annoyingly suggesting something like having a positive attitude? Friends are constantly moving on and getting involved in other activities and leaving someone behind. And the thing that resonated with me most personally-- is it possible to get through middle school and just not be noticed?

Kyle doesn't have a great attitude (after being accused of carrying a weapon while transporting a screwdriver home from shop class-- sorry to ruin the suspense-- who would?), but he's trying to make a go of it. His mother gives him a self help book, and he negotiates to earn a dollar a chapter for reading it. It has an odd (but not unbelievable or overdone) power to open to just the chapter he needs to deal with the problems he is facing on any given day.

Kyle doesn't think he changes his attitude that much, but the readers can tell that he is making strides in becoming more successful in middle school. Standardized testing takes a ribbing, and while the situation about test ethics isn't fully resolved, I don't quite expect it to be. There's also the problem of a "bad kid" who wants to befriend him-- this could have been more fully explored, but there was too much other stuff going on.

I would not mind at all if there was a sequel. I can see the cover now...

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